Mom life can be challenging, especially adding fitness onto the to do list. And there’s so much information out there – certain diets, specific workouts… It can be confusing and stressful to try to implement. The last thing we need is our fitness goals adding stress to our busy lives! So we are demystifying three things to optimize your fat burn in the most stress-free and time efficient way. And it’s coming straight from the mouth of a mom personal trainer/functional nutrition coach for that mom bod.
Myth #1: I need to do more cardio to lean out
Would you believe it’s possible to burn significantly more calories while you sleep? Our resting metabolism – the calories we burn while we’re sleeping or still – accounts for 50-65% of our total metabolism. More if we don’t work out, less of the total if we do. Our metabolism from exercise accounts for about 15%, and our body uses 35% to run all of our body systems.
There is a way to increase that biggest metabolism/calorie burn pie while we rest. Muscle burns three times the amount of calories at rest as fat! How can we put on more muscle? With resistance training. The most time-efficient way to build muscle is to lift heavier weights (ex: three sets of a given exercise with reps of 8, 6, and 4, increasing the load with each set).
Contrary to popular belief, lifting heavier weights will not make us bigger – it will actually make us smaller. Muscle is more dense than fat – 5 pounds of muscle takes up less volume than 5 pounds of fat. So as you increase your muscle mass, your inches will go down, and you’ll also burn more calories at rest. The image below shows a woman who increased her muscle mass as she got more and more lean. And yes, admittedly, many of us would be happy to look like any version of this young lady below. Side note: this concept explains why sometimes the scale number doesn’t move, even if clothes are fitting looser.
Myth #2: If I eat 1000 calories a day, I’ll lose weight
Our mom bod constantly strives to achieve balance… Between the energy going in (food) and the energy out (exercise + energy needed to run our body). At first, you will lose weight if you drastically cut your calories. However, eventually what you’ll do is slow your metabolism to match what you are fueling your body with. By cuing in to our true hunger signals, we can achieve metabolic balance in an easy and effective way.
How can we do this? First, whenever possible, stop eating when we are 80% full. 80% full is the half way point between that stuffed after Thanksgiving dinner feeling and that hangry get-everything-in-my-mouth-NOW feeling.
In order to make this happen in our busy real world, we need to eat slowly. It takes 15 minutes for the hormone CCK to tell our brain to stop eating. We often eat so fast we become over full (causing weight gain). This can be a tall order with all we have on our plate (pun intended), but with the right systems in place, it can be done.
Whenever possible, find 15 minutes to eat mindfully, taking a few deep breaths before eating to de-stress. Plan the time in your calendar to fuel your mom bod. Ensure healthy snacks are on hand for those busy days of back-to-back meetings or momming hard. Dehydration can often mask as hunger. Plain water (half our body weight (lbs) in ounces daily) between meals is the best way to stay hydrated and support healthy digestion.
Myth #3: To lean out, I need to eat less fat
The biggest culprit in excess body fat is not dietary fat, but excessive refined carbohydrates. To clarify: all carbohydrates are not evil. We need all three macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) for our mom bod to function properly. However, we should spend a minute talking about carbohydrates, glucose, and insulin.
All carbohydrates – fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, flours and sugars – break down to glucose (sugar), which our body uses for energy. Insulin is a hormone that helps our body regulate our blood glucose level. Excess blood glucose is toxic to the blood. When our blood sugar level gets too high, insulin ushers glucose into our fat stores, and turns off our body’s ability to use fat stores for energy. This is a survival mechanism so we can burn off excess glucose that remains in our blood.
How do we limit those glucose and insulin spikes? Focus on a low glycemic diet to optimize blood sugar levels. Generally speaking, carbohydrates that are higher in fiber – beans, whole grains, starchy vegetables – are lower in glycemic index. By reducing processed carbs (flours, breads, candy, sweet drinks etc) we can reduce our glycemic load, also helping to prevent or reverse pre-diabetes and diabetes. Then, if we do interval training, our bodies can draw on fat stores for energy to help us burn more body fat.
Below is an easy-to-use guideline for creating healthy, balanced meals. We can use our hand – it’s proportionate to our size, and goes with us everywhere! This is great especially for eating out or even for meal prep. To easily optimize micronutrients for fitness, aim for a palm’s worth of protein, a fist worth of vegetables, a cupped handful of a healthy carbohydrate, and a thumb’s worth of a healthy fat at each meal.
To easily optimize our metabolism, we can:
- Include resistance training in our exercise program so our bigger muscles can burn more fat at rest
- Tune into our true hunger cues to fuel our unique bodies with the amount of food it needs
- Focus on a well-balanced, low glycemic diet
And now to the “how.” The easiest way to make healthy lifestyle changes is to do them one at a time. Focus on one of the tips above for two weeks, master it, then move on to the next. You might tart with the thing that will make the biggest impact, or what’s easiest to implement.
Do you need a little more help to make all this happen in your busy life? I’d love you to join me for my free Back to School Back to You Reboot starting September 9th to reclaim your health and happiness!
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